The Shakeology Cleanse has taken off since I originally blogged about it. As promised, here’s the third installment of my cleansing analysis where I go into the differences between a performance cleanse, as I can the Shakeology version (SC), and a traditional cleanse such as the Master Cleanse (MC).
First of all, the SC is not a true cleanse but a calorie restricted nutrient dense eating plan. Traditional cleanses contain very few calories and nutrients. Compared to the much more popular MC, it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Traditional cleansing diets are done to rid your system of toxins and bring it into homeostasis. They also contain a spiritual aspect. This process can take a long time, which is why you may have seen co-workers walking around the office in a zombie-like state for weeks on end swilling a strange concoction of lemons and maple syrup.
The SC is nothing like that. Depending on how you decide to do it you’ll be eating frequently and consuming between 800 and 1200 calories a day, and it could be even more should you feel you need it. The point of the cleanse is not calorie restriction, per se; it’s nutrient efficiency. The aim is to get the most nutrient possible into the fewest number of calories. The goal is to put all of these calories to use as a part of your exercise program, rid your body of undigested foods and toxins, and bring your hydration levels into homeostasis. The result you’re after is not weight loss—though it will likely occur (see my last post)—but that your body is running more efficiently. This should make you feel lighter and more energetic, even though you’re doing an exercise program.
I call it nutrient efficient eating, and not actual cleansing, because you eat a meal with a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber every few hours. And while you’re not eating as much food as you’d normally eat you’re calorie to nutrient ratio is extremely high, meaning that that actual nutrients you’re getting should not be too restricted so activity can continue as it normally would.
A lot of people have asked me how I managed to consume around 1,500 calories a day on the cleanse but it’s not a stretch to do so. You have three Shakeology shakes where you can add fruit, nuts, and seeds. I would usually add various fruits to one shake and fruit and chia seeds to another, then have the third as a snack during a period where I was training. At night you get a salad and I’d pile mine high with veggies, nuts, and seeds and use some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing.
This may seem like a lot of food but remember that the goal here is performance. You want to eat enough to fuel your day, including your workout. The foods you’re eating are so high in fiber and nutrients that it’s virtually impossible to overeat. You’ll be consuming so much fiber, along with enzymes and digestive aids that your body’s ability to eliminate will be heightened to where any excess foods will be quickly flushed.
Back to the weight thing; most people will lose some weight during a cleanse but that is not the goal. Those with a lot of undigested gunk in their systems will lose weight as it’s flushed out. Those of you who are properly hydrated and already eat well are less likely to lose. For those of you who need to lose weight take heart; you are setting up your system to use nutrients more efficiently and improving your ability to lose weight through structured diet and exercise. So while you may not lose much on the cleanse you’ll be more prepared to lose weight later. Think of this as a foundation training phase where you’re body might not change a lot but you’re improving you’re capacity for performance, and hence change, during the latter phases of the program.
I should probably address cortisol in another posting but I’ll mention it briefly here. Another reason why we don’t always lose weight on cleanses is due to this stress hormone. Restricting calories is stressful to the body and it reacts by releasing cortisol. Cortisol is performance enhancing in the short term but if you somehow keep you body stressed for long periods it creates havoc in your system and can cause you to doggedly hang onto weight in a type of survival mode. We don’t want this to occur, which is one reason the Shakeology cleanse is short (and the reason many people don’t lose weight on the MC). It’s important not to remain in a highly caloric deficient state for long periods of time, and especially when you are trying to exercise hard.